Self-Improvement Stew: The Results of Hardship & The Fruit of the Spirit
Holiness is the character of God. To share in His holiness is to become like Him in the character of our life.
“For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers,” (Romans 8:29, ESV).
You see, that’s maturity. That’s what life is to be like. We are to live life as Jesus Christ lived it when He was on Earth. To share in His holiness (in what He is like) is an ongoing process of conforming our character to that of His and enduring hardship is one of the ways we learn character-shaping lessons that can’t be learned any other way.
What will we look like when we reach maturity? I think the best answer regarding life character is found in Galatians 5:22-23. It tells us what God is after in our lives and what the Holy Spirit is producing, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
What do you think? Is that a desirable outcome for your life? Would you like to be a person of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Well, that’s what Christ was in his perfection. That’s what God is after, and that’s what enduring hardship helps produce in our lives.
Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the Scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: “And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3).
One lady decided to visit a silversmith and report to the others on what he said about the subject.
She went, and without telling him the reason for her visit, asked the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, “Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?”
“Oh, yes ma’am,” replied the silversmith; “I must sit and watch the furnace constantly, for, if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.”
The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
God sees it necessary to put His children into the furnace, but His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not test beyond what we can endure.
Before she left, the lady asked one final question, “How do you know when the process is complete?”
“That’s quite simple,” replied the silversmith. “When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished.”
– Author Unknown1
The more we become like Christ, what do we experience? Verse 11 says, “it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace” or as some translations put it, “the peaceable fruit of righteousness,” or “righteousness that comes from peace.”
Peace is the inner sense of being okay and content, even in the midst of hardship. Peace doesn’t deny difficulty, but it has an inner calm and quietness even while enduring the pressure. The more I’m shaped, the more I’m conformed, the more I am a sharer in God’s holiness, the more I experience peace at the center of my life.
The author honestly admits that discipline doesn’t seem pleasant while we are in the midst of it. Indeed, it can be painful. But the outcomes help us endure the difficulty.
So, how do we respond to a better understanding of the value of hardship? Go back to verse 5,
“Don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline.” To make light of it is to despise it. It means we shouldn’t treat it as insignificant (of little value). Don’t ignore what is communicated through the training ground of hardship. A wrong response is to dismiss hardship thinking God doesn’t care when realistically, it is telling us that He does care.
“Don’t lose heart.” Losing heart is when you can see the dejection on the face, the drooping of the eyes, and the look of despondency. It isn’t a giving up in rebellious defiance; rather it’s a passive resignation that says, “whatever,” and shuts down on God. The thinking is, “He’s there. I’m here. Get on with life.”
That’s what we’re not to do. What are we to do? Well, next week we’ll look at actions we are to take to deal with hardship, but for now look at verse 9. We are to “submit to the Father of our spirits and live!”
It means we are to yield our wills to the will of the Father. We are to do life His way. Why? Because that’s the way to live a real life. Real life is what life was meant to be, one filled with peace.
I know that some of you are facing hardship right now. It is not pleasant. It is painful. However, this hardship has come into your life, so begin to look at it for what can be produced in you through it, as you yield to God’s will, not losing heart.
- Glenn Eastman, God’s Most Wanted (Raleigh, North Carolina: Lulu, 2011).
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